During the fall of 2009, I made the final step in eliminating meat from my diet.  I didn’t eat much meat to begin with, so it really wasn’t difficult.  Recently – during the last month or so – I took the next step and eliminated animal products in general (the big ones being dairy and eggs).  Of course, whenever someone chooses to go vegetarian (or vegan), they’re inevitably asked “but what do you eat?” and “don’t you need the protein/calcium/miscellaneous item?” or any other question that implies that they are foolish and will surely shrivel up into a little ball and pass out from lack of “nutrients.”  This seems to be even more of a concern for those loving family and friends when said vegetarian/vegan is an athlete.

It comes as a surprise to many people to know that many top athletes are actually vegetarians or vegans: Bart Yasso, Dave Scott, Sixto Linares, Robert Sweetgall, Edwin Moses, Paavo Nurmi, Bill Pickering, Murray Rose, Andreas Cahling, Stan Price, Roy Hilligan, Pierreo, Estelle Gray and Cheryl Marek, James and Jonathan deDonato, Ridgely Abele – the list goes on and on.  (I should mention that I got this list – with the exception of Bart Yasso – from John Robbins’ book, “Diet for a New America.”  There’s an excerpt here if you would like to read the details on each of these exceptional athletes.)  Here is another interesting compilation of vegetarian athletes.

I have to admit, I had fallen victim to that indoctrination into the general public’s eating habits.  There was a little voice in the back of my head that thought “I want to do this, but where oh where will I get my protein?  How will I have enough energy?”

It turns out, I actually feel better now than I did before.

Eliminating meat and other animal products from my diet has given me loads of energy.  I feel better during and after my workouts.  I’m happier.  I don’t feel weighed down all the time – particularly after meals.

I don’t worry about getting the nutrients I need because my diet doesn’t consist of junk.  I eat healthy foods and lots of vegetables.  Protein and vital nutrients are everywhere!

Tonight, I came across Matt’s (at No Meat Athlete) list of ways going vegetarian has made his life better and felt inspired to make my own.  Granted, I haven’t been doing this for a whole year yet, but there’s already so many things to include.

  1. I’m happier.  (I don’t have the guilt that an animal had to die for my dinner hanging over my head anymore.)
  2. I have more energy.
  3. My husband is eating better (and has very nearly come around to going vegan, which I never thought would happen).
  4. We are both losing weight and body fat.
  5. I am LOVING cooking (never liked it before).
  6. I have tried tons of new recipes.
  7. I have opened up my mind to countless new foods that I never would have tried in a million years before. (Hello?  Edamame?  Tempeh?  Quinoa?  Kale?  Celeriac?  Parsnips?  Rhubarb?  I could go on and on.  I know my mom likes this one.)
  8. My mom (who lives hundreds of miles away) is now eating tofu and buying organic.  Not so sure she’s gotten dad on board, but it’s a start!
  9. I can now talk recipes with my sister.
  10. I made a great friend!  (Yay Carrie!)  AND got even closer to my favorite one!  (Yay Meredith!)
  11. I (also) bought a juicer – and my husband loves it.  I had to yell at him not to juice my apples for lunch.
  12. I got a raise at work and put the whole thing into our grocery budget (it was pretty skimpy before).  Now we can actually cook real meals with real ingredients.
  13. We got a crop share with a farmer at our local farmer’s market.
  14. I have learned a LOT about myself.
  15. I’ve learned a LOT about nutrition!
  16. I’ve learned to listen to my body and what it is trying to tell me.
  17. I am far more patient. (Although my husband wouldn’t always agree!)
  18. I now frequent our local natural foods store and the “local” co-op. (45 miles away, uugh.  But totally worth it.)
  19. I have trained for a marathon.  (Going for my first one in September!)
  20. I have completed a half marathon.
  21. I have more self-confidence.
  22. I challenge myself more.
  23. I have a better body image.
  24. My skin is perfectly clear 99% of the time.  (Teen years = torture!)
  25. I’m not afraid to try something new.
  26. I love my dogs THAT much more.
  27. I learn something new every day.
  28. My cookbook collection has grown.
  29. We get a lot of use out of our dining room table (which we never used to use).
  30. I have something to blog about!

Have you changed something in your life?  How did it help you?

P.S. – Check out the recipe list at No Meat Athlete!  YUM!  I want to make those Superfood Energy Bars (and everything else on there).